Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grapefruit Campari Sorbet

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As you can probably tell my the blinding girlishness of my blog, I unapologetically love pink.

The thing is, I in no way fit the personality profile of a stereotypical pink-lover.
My ipod and cellphone are not bedazzled with swarovski crystals.
I stopped wearing tiaras after grammar school.
If for some reason I am wearing a skirt, I can assure you that I will provide no opportunity for accidental peeping at my lady parts.
See? I'm totally 'one of the guys'.

But yeah. I admit that pink sort of puts me in my happy place. As does this pink grapefruit sorbet. I look forward to making it all year. Right about now, when the gargantuan Florida grapefruit are available is the best time to make it, but the Texas rio stars are also quite good. The Campari is key. While it may taste as bitter and evil as Slayer lyrics by itself- the oompf a little splash of it in citrus cocktails will deliver makes it a worthy investment. Plus you'll look totally suave with it sitting on your bar.

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Do yourself a favor and candy the zest of the grapefruit before juicing them. Not only is it less wasteful in trying economic times like these, but it makes a tasty garnish as well.

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This sorbet always does well at the restaurant. It's rare when a sorbet will outsell anything with chocolate in it, but this one will.
I love to imagine some alpha male on a first date accidentally ordering it.
While he is desperately hoping to appear manly- thus increasing the odds of mating, this pretty pink dessert on a doily sits before him.
It probably never happens, but I can always fantasize.


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Grapefruit Campari Sorbet

5 1/2 cups freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (usually takes about 8 medium grapefruit)
1 quart grapefruit simple syrup*
6 oz. champagne, prosecco, or cremant (anything bubbly)
1 oz campari

Combine and churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions

*Grapefruit simple syrup:
1 quart water
4 cups sugar
grated zest of 2 ruby red grapefruit

Rub the zest into the sugar with your hands until the mixture resembles wet sand. Combine with the water and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat and strain. Chill overnight or in an ice bath.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Humble little citrus bars

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There is nothing fancy about these bars. I am completely aware of the fact that none of my readers will be wowed or have their hair blown back.

But they are so, SO good.

I made these for the first time last summer to bring to a BBQ, using just the zest and juice of key limes and garnishing with toasted coconut.
I had also brought strawberry shortcake- made in the height of local strawberry season, with a mascarpone whipped filling. I was expecting that to be the crowd pleaser, but everyone kept going back for the lime bars.
I knew I would need to revisit the recipe when citrus season rolled around.

Here we are, six months later with an abundance of cool citrus fruits to play with. This particular batch was made with the zest and juice of limes, meyer lemons, and cara cara oranges- garnished with a piece of candied grapefruit zest (leftover from my Grapefruit Campari Sorbet. Stay tuned).
I will be making these again in a few weeks using all seville oranges (my fave) for a super tart party in my mouth.

It's hard to say exactly what makes these simple little bars so addicting. I really love the animal cracker crust as a stand in for the everyday graham crackers. And the texture of the filling is nothing short of dreamy- having just enough cream cheese in them for a slight tang, but not so much that they are cheesecakey (nothing against you, cheesecake- but there is a time and a place.)

This recipe comes from a well known cooking periodical. I will not tell you which one, because the word on the street is that they are total nazis about food bloggers reprinting their recipes.
I'm going to break all kinds of laws here, and supply you with the recipe- without citing the source. Lets see if thugs wearing little red bow ties come after me brandishing rapier swords and chucking ninja stars.

Mystery Citrus Bars (as I made them)

crust:
5 oz animal crackers
3 T packed brown sugar
2 T melted butter
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving excess to overhang pan sides. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Pulse animal crackers in a food processor until broken down. Add brown sugar and salt. Pulse until you have evenly fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse until crumbs are moistened.
Press evenly into the bottom of prepared pan (use the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup). Bake until golden brown. About 18-20 minutes. Cool while you make the filling.


filling:
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp each of grated lime, meyer lemon, and orange zest (mince zest with a sharp knife after zesting)
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
4 T lime juice, 2 T meyer lemon juice, and 2 T cara cara* orange juice


*cara cara oranges are slightly less sweet than regular oranges. If using regular oranges, decrease juice to 1 T and increase either meyer lemon or lime juice by 1 T.

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Go Oregon Ducks

Stir the cream cheese, zest, and salt with a rubber spatula until softened and creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk thoroughly until no lumps remain. Whisk in egg yolk. Add juices and whisk until incorporated.
Pour filling into crust, spread to corners, and smooth surface with a spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. 15-20 minutes.
Cool to room temp, then cover with foil and refrigerate until completely chilled- at least 2 hours.
Loosen edges with a paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions. Cut bars into 16 squares.


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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Holiday Granola. Slightly belated.

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As granolas go, this one is pretty damn festive.

I call this "holiday" granola because it contains dried cranberries, minced candied ginger, and is infused with the zest from satsuma oranges- which were always in my stocking as a kid.
Also, because I can only assume that people get sick of receiving cookies and shitty fudge (as I do)- I made a huge batch, jarred it up, and gave it away during the holidays. I love homemade gifts (really!), and I especially love it when they wont lead to adult onset diabetes and a fat ass.

While I would never call this granola healthy (ya know- the butter.), it is certainly more beneficial than the giant tub of flavored popcorn my sister-in-law sent us (half candy corn, half cheddar corn. All stale, smelly, vile, and eerily addicting).

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This recipe is totally laid back. It turns out perfect and evenly golden every time. It comes from my old buddy Kurt, former owner of Cafe Septieme in Seattle, and now full time farmer. I usually don't add dried fruit to it- as it is delicious alone, but dried bing cherries, blueberries, or apricots are also nice compliments to it.

Next time you're fixing drop 6 or 7 bucks on a box of granola, why not just check out your pantry? You undoubtedly have all you need to make it yourself.

You'll thank yourself while it's baking and the aroma of honey and orange fills your kitchen.
You'll thank me once you've tried it sprinkled on vanilla ice cream.

Holiday Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecan pieces
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened- but use what you like)
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
9 oz unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
zest of 1 orange (or 2 small satsumas)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup minced candied ginger

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Pre heat the oven to 325
Toss the oats, nuts, and coconut together in a large bowl. In a saucepan, bring the butter, honey, zest, and nutmeg to a boil. Pour over oats and stir thoroughly, until mixture is evenly coated with the honey butter. Pour out onto 2 sheet pans.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Cool, then stir in dried fruit.

Thanks Norm!